In the Bruschi and Slater tradition, “How do we feeeel about a victory over the Jets?” “Awwww..... Yeah!”
The New England Patriots clawed back to .500 last Sunday against the New York Jets. That alone is worth celebrating. Without getting into the nitty gritty of how Mac Jones and the offense got it done but barely, the defense has holes to fill, key players have to heal up and coaching needs to tighten up, don’t lose sight of the fact that this was an important division win. On the road. In New York. On a short week the Pats managed to out-coach their overly chirpy rivals and sic the ghosts on Jets QB Zach Wilson. Not a bad day’s work and — I’ll say it, the win felt really good.
Keep in mind that New England ranks 8th in the AFC, just two games out of first place in both the conference and the division. Only one game separates them from second place behind the top-ranked Bills. And as odd as it sounds the Patriots still control their playoff destiny. Four all-important divisional games remain, and if the Pats can win them, they’ll be in good shape. If they can’t, that’s a whole different trajectory.
The Patriots return to the scene of the Monday Night Football crime this Sunday, facing the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium. Second-year QB Sam Ehlinger is the Colts’ sixth starting quarterback since Andrew Luck retired in 2019. ‘Eesh. Keep that in mind the next time you feel like complaining about the home-town team. I predict the Patriots and the “Boogie Oogie” beat Indy and Ehlinger on Sunday.
Around the AFC East:
Buffalo Bills (6-1) at New York Jets (5-3)
Miami Dolphins (5-3) at Chicago Bears (3-5)
New England Patriots (4-4) vs. Indianapolis Colts (3-4-1)
Kansas City Chiefs (5-2) vs. Tennessee Titans (5-2)
Baltimore Ravens (5-3) at New Orleans Saints (3-5)
Los Angeles Chargers (4-3) at Atlanta Falcons (4-4)
Cincinnati Bengals (4-4) vs. Carolina Panthers (2-6)
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) vs. Las Vegas Raiders (2-5)
Houston Texans (1-5-1) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (7-0)
Cleveland Browns (3-5) - Bye
Denver Broncos (3-5) - Bye
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6) - Bye
13th - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): The Patriots’ offense certainly isn’t fixed because they got a win over the Jets, especially after settling for five field goals. But it was a win. Bill Belichick knows how to manage a game and get victories, especially when everyone is counting him out. [+6]
13th - Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): It looks like they’ve settled on Mac Jones as their starting quarterback. That’s the way it should be, even if he wasn’t great in the victory over the Jets. [+3]
13th - Nate Davis (USA Today): They’re making some breaks (league-high 16 takeaways) and catching some timely ones, namely the pick-six by the Jets that was overturned in Sunday’s 22-17 escape. New England’s on track to have a better year than Tom Brady for the first time since he left in 2020. [+5]
13th - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): Every time it looks like they’re falling apart, they find a way to get it together. [+6]
13th - Bryan Fischer (Athlon Sports): You just knew the Pats would have a response after that no-show on Monday night against the Bears. The offense still needs some work but Bill Belichick will take wins any way they come if they allow him to pass the great George Halas on the all-time list. [+5]
13th - Dan Hanzus (NFL.com): With the benefit of hindsight, Sunday’s result makes way more sense. Bill Belichick and the Patriots had just been embarrassed at home by the Bears on a prime-time stage — they couldn’t ask for a better tonic than getting the Jets six days later. The Pats continued to pick on their own personal Charlie Brown, bullying an overmatched Zach Wilson into three interceptions in a 22-17 win at the Meadowlands. New England has now beaten New York 13 straight times — tied for the longest active streak among division rivals. Questions will continue to persist at quarterback — Mac Jones remained uninspiring in the win — but the Pats can thank the Jets for once again providing a soft landing in times of turbulence. [+4]
14th - Bo Wulf (The Athletic): Fact: If you combined the geographic divisions of each conference, the Easts are dominating the field. They are the only two divisions with winning records in non-division games. Opinion: Just trade for Aaron Rodgers and get it over with. [+5]
14th - Ryan Dunleavy (NY Post). [+6]
15th - Austin Gayle (The Ringer): The Patriots secured a much-needed win over the Jets on Sunday, but the offense remains hamstrung by poor quarterback play from Mac Jones. Only two starting quarterbacks have a negative EPA per attempt average on throws at or beyond the first down marker in 2022: Jones and rookie Kenny Pickett. Jones also ranks 28th in EPA per dropback (-0.28) on second, third, and fourth downs with seven or more yards to go before the first. The winning formula for New England right now is to force turnovers on defense and find success running the football with Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris. That might be enough to clinch a postseason berth but leave them as heavy underdogs against AFC powerhouses like the Bills and Chiefs. [+6]
15th - Karen Guregian (Boston Herald): Bill Belichick passed George Halas on the all-time list with his 325th win. Don Shula (347) is now in his sights. Let’s just say if the Hoodie had to play the Jets 22 more times to catch Shula, it’d be a piece of cake. [+5]
15th - Peter King (ProFootballTalk): The quarterbacking is surprisingly bad, and Pats won Sunday, in part, because of Zach Wilson’s awfulness. Plus, two of the last six games are against Buffalo. But you never know with this franchise.
15th - Consensus (Bleacher Report): After getting drilled at home by the Bears last week, the Patriots badly needed to get things back on track. Luckily for the team, nothing gets the Patriots back on track quite like facing the New York Jets. New England defeated its AFC East rivals for the 13th straight time Sunday. ... It wasn’t an especially masterful performance—Mac Jones failed to clear 200 passing yards, and New England’s ground game averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. But despite being outgained by almost 100 yards, the Patriots made plays when they needed to and forced three turnovers.
The Patriots have a pair of winnable games up next against the Colts and Jets—it’s possible New England will hit Week 12 at 6-4. Then comes two games that will define whether the Pats have any chance of making a second straight trip to the postseason—at Minnesota and home against the East-leading Bills. [+5]
16th - Matt Johnson (SportsNaut): After an ugly showing against Chicago, Bill Belichick got his team back on track against the opponent who he loves facing more than few others. Heading into a winnable Week 9 matchup against the Colts, New England is in a prime position to turn a 1-3 record into a 5-4 mark before its bye week. [+3]
16th - Trevor Land (FlurrySports). [+1]
17th - Conor Orr (SI): At 4–4, the Patriots have a 33% chance of reaching the postseason, according to FiveThirtyEight. If Mac Jones settles into a bit of a groove, and New England’s offense moves from a net negative efficiency level to just league average, I wonder whether Bill Belichick & Co. could manufacture enough victories to lean into the playoffs again. [+3]
17th - NFL Nation (ESPN): Reason for optimism: Rhamondre Stevenson. The second-year running back is coming into his own as the rare type of every-down option — power on early downs and pass-catching prowess on third down. Sunday’s win over the Jets was the latest example of how Stevenson is one of the best things the Patriots have going, with 16 rushes for 71 yards and seven catches for 72 yards. — Mike Reiss. [+1]
17th - Staff (The Score): Bill Belichick got a slight reprieve from criticism of his handling of the Pats’ quarterback situation as Mac Jones finished with a 79.9 passer rating in an outing where he was hauled to the ground for six sacks. The offense also needs to improve its red-zone efficiency after scoring a TD on 11 of its 24 trips. [+7]
18th - Josh Schrock (NBC Sports): The Patriots still own the Jets. Sky is still blue. [+5]
18th - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): The Patriots cleaned up a lot of their defensive mistakes from the Bears game to rip into Wilson. They still need cleaner play from Mac Jones, however, playing off the running game, to be more than a .500 last-place team in a tough division. [+2]
Tier 4 - Dalton Miller (ProFootballNetwork): “It could be better” category. The Patriots beat the Jets for the 13th straight time, and they did it in about the ugliest way possible. Mac Jones seems more out of control than he did as a rookie, and if not for three Zach Wilson interceptions, the Patriots might not have had enough offense to win this game. It sure helped that Mike LaFleur forgot that he was allowed to run the football. The Jets took a 10-6 lead into halftime and only trailed by nine points heading into the fourth quarter. However, New York threw the ball 41 times compared to just 15 rushes. [nc]
AVG RANK: 15 [+4]